South Africa’s black majority still has a significant number of rural dwellers who live largely impoverished lives. Among these people, cultural traditions survive most strongly; with the increasing urbanisation and westernisation of black people, aspects of traditional culture have declined. Members of the middle class, who are predominantly white but have increasing numbers of blacks, coloureds and Indians in their ranks, have in many ways similar lifestyles to people in Western Europe, North America and Australasia.
One of the first youth organisations open to young people and adults of all races in South Africa was the South African Scout Association. This happened on 2 July 1977 at a conference that became known as “Quo Vadis”.
Art in South Africa
South African art includes the oldest art objects in the world, discovered in a South African cave and dated to 75,000 years ago. The scattered tribes of Khoisan people who moved into South Africa from around 10000 BC had their own fluid style of art, which can be seen today in a variety of cave paintings. They were displaced by the Bantu/Nguni peoples with their own vocabulary of art forms. New art forms developed in the mines and townships: dynamic art using everything from plastic strips to bicycle spokes. Dutch-influenced African Trekker folk art, and white urban artists who followed the changing European traditions in earnest from the 1850s onwards, also contributed to this eclectic mix that has developed to the present day.
South African literature has emerged from a unique social and political history. One of the first known novels written by a black author in an African language was Solomon Thekiso Plaatjes Mhudi in 1930. In the 1950s, Drum magazine became a hotbed of political satire, fiction and essays that gave voice to urban black culture.
Notable white South African authors include Alan Paton, who published the highly acclaimed novel Cry, the Beloved Country in 1948. Nadine Gordimer was the first South African to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. Her most famous novel, July’s People, was published in 1981. J.M. Coetzee has been awarded with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003. In awarding the prize, the Swedish Academy stated that Coetzee “portrays the surprising implication of the outsider in countless characters”.
Athol Fugard’s plays regularly premiere in South Africa, London (Royal Court Theatre) and New York’s Fringe Theatre. Olive Schreiner’s The Story of an African Farm (1883) was a revelation in Victorian literature: it is hailed by many as introducing feminism into the novel form.
Breytenbach was imprisoned for his involvement in the guerrilla movement against apartheid. André Brink was the first African writer to be banned by the government after publishing his novel A Dry White Season.
Popular culture in South Africa
The South African media industry is large and South Africa is one of the major media centres in Africa. While South Africa’s many broadcasters and publications reflect the diversity of the population at large, the most common language used is English. However, all the other ten official languages are represented to some extent.
There is a great deal of diversity in South African music. Black musicians have developed a distinctive style known as ‘Kwaito’. Kwaito is said to have conquered radio, television and magazines. Noteworthy is Brenda Fassie, who rose to fame with a song called “Weekend Special” sung in English. South Africa has produced some of the world’s most famous jazz musicians, including Hugh Masekela, Jonas Guwangwa, Abdullah Ibrahim, Miriam Makeba, Jonathan Butler, Chris McGregor and Satima Bo Benjamin. Afrikaans music spans multiple genres, including contemporary Steve Hoffmeyer, punk rock band Fokow Policy Car and singer-songwriter Jeremy Loops.
Although South African film productions are little known outside of South Africa itself, there are many foreign films about South Africa. Probably the best-known film to portray South Africa in recent years was District 9. In 2015, Oliver Hermanu’s film The Endless River became the first South African film to be selected for the Venice Film Festival.
Cuisine in South Africa
South African culture is diverse; food from many cultures is enjoyed by all and marketed especially to tourists who want to sample the great variety of South African cuisine. Besides food, music and dance also play an important role.
South African cuisine is heavily meat-based and has given rise to the typical South African social gathering known as a braai or barbecue. South Africa has also become a major wine producer, with some of the best vineyards located in the valleys around Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Barrydale.
Sports in South Africa
Football, rugby and cricket are the most popular sports in South Africa. Other sports that receive strong support are swimming, athletics, golf, boxing, tennis, ringball and netball. While football has the largest following among young people, other sports such as basketball, surfing and skateboarding are also gaining in popularity.
Footballers who have played for major foreign clubs include Steven Pienaar, Lucas Radebe and Philemon Masinga, Benny McCarthy, Aaron Mokoena and Delon Barkley. South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup and FIFA President Sepp Blatter awarded South Africa a score of 9 out of 10 for a successful World Cup.
Notable boxing personalities include Baby Jake Jacob Matlala, Buyani Bungu, Welcome Nshita, Dingaan Tovela, Gerry Coetzee and Brian Mitchell. Durban surfer Jordy Smith won the Billabong J-Bay in 2010, making him the world number one. South Africa produced the world Formula One champion Jordy Scheckter in 1979. Notable current cricketers include AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Faf du Plessis and many others. Most of them also play in the Indian Premier League.
A number of world-class rugby athletes are also being born in South Africa, including Francois Pienaar, Joost van der Westhuizen, Danny Craven, Frick du Preez, Naas Botha and Bryan Habana. South Africa hosted and won the 1995 Rugby After the 1995 Rugby World Cup, South Africa hosted the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations, which the national team won. It also hosted the 2003 Cricket World Cup and the 2007 Twenty20 World Cup.
In 2004, the swimming team of Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns, Darian Townsend and Ryk Neethling won the gold medal at the Athens Olympics and also broke the world record in the 4×100 freestyle relay. 1996 Atlanta Olympics saw Penny Hesvin win the In 2012, Oscar Pistorius became the first double amputee sprinter to compete at the London Olympics. In golf, Gary Player is widely regarded as one of the greatest golfers of all time, becoming one of five golfers to win a professional Grand Slam. Other South African golfers to win majors include Bobby Locke, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Tim Clark, Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.